We've touched on this a time or two but Professor In Training has a brilliant bit up about the many costs associated with starting a new laboratory program. How far will those startup dollars really take you, anyway?
And if you inherit a completely empty lab like I did, you'll need to spend a ton of cash on basic stuff like beakers, flasks, bottles, weigh boats, pipettes, mini-centrifuges, electrophoresis rigs, etc. Each of these items are relatively inexpensive but the costs of buying all of them in one hit starts to add up very, very quickly. Throw in delivery charges for everything. $50 here. $30 there. New primary antibodies? $350 each plus $50 delivery. How many antibodies do you need? One? Ten? Watch the dollars fly out the door. And don't forget you need secondary antibodies. And reagents. And tubes. And slides. What about basic chemicals? Any EDTA on your shelves? NaCl? PBS?